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Archive for the ‘Social Studies’ Category

How did a character from Matt Furie’s comic Boy’s Club become one of the mega-memes to end all viral meme characters?  Yup, it’s Pepe the Frog.  Do you even know where Pepe comes from?  How he became a symbol of powerful forces of provocation and extremist alt-right political views today?  And what does its creator have to say about how this came to be and what he can do about it?

If interested, check out more info on the Sundance Award-winning documentary Feels Good Man. Director by Arthur Jones leads us on an investigation of the webverse that many of us, particularly today’s students, inhabit here and now.

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As a new school year begins, here is a quick update on one of the most comprehensive and dynamic resource hubs for media literacy lessons and videos designed for elementary, middle, and high school learners: KQED Education.  In their “For Classrooms” section, teachers can find lesson plans for Humanities or STEM units, or Elementary media literacy education.  For professional development, educators are also encouraged to check out their coursework in KQED Teach and PBS Media Literacy Educators Certification. Some might want to go straight to the topical videos produced by PBS Digital Studios, check out the Above the Noise channel (or its previous incarnation, The Lowdown, with stories from 2018 and before, organized by theme).  And for those looking for an overall national resource from public media, here is the PBS Learning Media page, from which one can also search for links to local stations and related resources.

Update 2020: An election year is here, and a special Youth Media Challenge has been set up for educators and students.  Check it out!

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In previous posts, the impact of The Uncanny Valley (or Uncatty Valleys) was discussed through a variety of examples of how CGI can be used to create or alter human forms or other living creatures, along with the impact of such sights on viewers.

In recent months, there were many strong reactions to just how many uses of AI “creatures” were seen in commercials during 2019, such as during the Super Bowl.  Whether they are reflecting current fears or aspirations, or if they are being used to shape perceptions and obsessions with technology and its role in people’s lives, there is no question that how audiences are able to process and decipher digitally-created and manipulated images, particularly those of humans, is a key media question for viewers today.  And for young people, who are generally well-versed in “personal branding” and the current career choice of “influencer,” they might even wonder if those being selected to influence them are even real.

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In earlier posts, there has been exploration of such phenomena as the use and misuse of the terms “fake news” and “trolls,” along with the many impacts of covert disinformation campaigns, contemporary propaganda, and other phenomena of distorting or negating truth-telling through media manipulation and dissemination of outright falsehoods.  A major media event has just occurred in which a video was surreptitiously altered through digital editing and shared in an attempt to make it seem as if Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi was “stumbling over and slurring her words” in a recent interview.  This doctored video was spread through social media, including by President Trump and figures connected to him.  Here is an article in the New York Times that includes video reporting of the story, and another from the Washington Post.

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One year ago, a mediateacher.net post shared a Black History Month Interactive Resource, which can be a useful start to exploring many culturally and artistically significant related to this theme from film history.  As a follow up, here is a related highlight from this year’s Academy Awards ceremony: Spike Lee receiving the award for Outstanding Adapted Screenplay (along with Charlie Wachtel, David Rabinowitz and Kevin Willmott) for BlacKkKlansman and delivering a passionate, dramatic acceptance speech that was rooted in his own personal history.  You can read it here.  For those interested in more about Ron Stallworth and the true story on which BlacKkKlansman is based, I recommend checking out this excellent Snap Judgment podcast.

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